A new NHS commissioning body demonstrated its commitment to putting service users at the heart of its decision-making by inviting a 32-year-old patient who has often been frustrated by the health service in Bradford to address its first meeting.
Richard Hazlett, of Allerton , who was born with aethetoid quadriplegic cerebral palsy and requires one-to-one support, spoke at the first shadow governing body meeting in public of the Bradford District’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
The CCG is a group of GP practices in the districts of Bradford who, from April 2013 on the abolition of the primary care trust, will be responsible for planning, designing and buying health services for 330,115 patients.
The CCG is one of three in the district, the other two being Bradford City CCG, which serves 118,000 patients in the inner city, and Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, which has a patient population of 155,781.
Chaired by Allerton GP Dr Andy Withers, the meeting in Douglas Mill, Bradford, heard how what Mr Hazlett had to say was fundamental to the new organisation, which had a real opportunity to listen and respond, to make things better for people in Bradford.
Mr Hazlett told how in a variety of care settings – a GP surgery, a resource centre and in hospital – he had been frustrated when people didn’t spend the extra time needed to listen to him directly and understand what he had to say.
He said: “People don’t talk to me. They talk over my head to my mum and dad or my support worker. I understand they are busy people, but I want them to take notice of me, take the time to talk to me as a real person. People don’t see me as a person, but as someone with a disability in a wheelchair.
“I want the chance to say ‘no’ if I don’t agree with something. I want to put my point across. I want to be included in anything that is being proposed about my care and have more control over my own health.
“Just because my body doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean that my brain doesn’t. I can voice my own opinions, but people don’t realise that. I want them to look at the person, not at the wheelchair. I don’t want to be labelled as a disabled person because, in my head, I am just like you and every other human being. People don’t seem to realise that.”
Dr Withers said the organisation would remember the message Mr Hazlett had given.